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Why Us? Part 3

It’s been a long time since you’ve exercised with any regularity.  Lots of reasons, most of them good.

But your waistline is not fixing itself. You remember when physical activity was a joy, but now, you aren’t confident when you need to move something heavy, or spend lots of time on your feet.

Related: Why Us? Part 1

So now you’re looking to start a fitness program. Fantastic!  The only way to get where you want to go is to start.  But where?

Start with the program that makes you want to do it.

It looks so BIG from here…

Consistency is the real key to success for all health and fitness goals.  So the program that makes you want to come back for more is the one that is most likely to improve your health and fitness.  It does not matter if it is CrossFit® or Barre®, Jazzercise® or running.  That said, the more specific your desired outcome, the more specific your program should be.  Also, the more general your desired outcome (“health” and “fitness” are very broad terms), the more elements of fitness your program should contain.  If you want to be strong, Jazzercise® can help, but not as much as a program with focused resistance training, and a program with focused resistance training will be more effective the heavier the resistance used.

So the first question is what do you want?

If you want to run a marathon, you should run.  A lot.  And come to our Endurance class on Mondays at 6:30PM for a resistance training session that will also keep your heart rate in the recovery zone.

If broad, inclusive fitness without any gaps is what you want, you cannot beat CrossFit®, especially if you pair it with easy aerobic recovery work.

If challenging movements that require you to focus your effort and transfer to the real world sound appealing, then you cannot beat CrossFit®.

If you want both strength and cardiovascular fitness, you cannot beat CrossFit®.

If you want strength, but want to emphasize cardiovascular fitness, you cannot beat CrossFit® Lite.

Related: Why Us? Part 2

All of our classes are programmed and led by professional, trained instructors operating from the same foundation in movement mechanics and focused on your safety and progress.  Our instructors do not do the workout with you (that’s a leader, not a teacher).  Ours focus on teaching and challenging you, while keeping everyone safe, even in the middle of the hardest workout you’ve ever experienced.  The programming is done for you.  Just like a high school sports team, all you need to do is show up ready to work, to follow instructions, and to support your classmates.

Contact me at john@crossfitslipstream.com for a FREE, No-Sweat Introduction to get answers to all your questions on how we can best help you get back the life you love!

-John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

Member Highlight- Meet Evan

1. Why did you decide to try CrossFit?

Lots of peer pressure from Dan Gedatus and John Brennan. We were classmates in grad school and they hounded me nonstop for a year. Typical sales guys. At one point Dan told me he’s been working out his whole life and felt it was all a waste of time compared to CrossFit. Their encouragement combined with what I already knew about it made giving it a shot a no-brainer.

2. How is having a CrossFit coach changed your workout or fitness results?

Having a coach has helped in a lot of ways, namely accountability, helping with technique, giving me an extra push, and programming movements that I wouldn’t otherwise do on my own. I’ve always loved lifting, but CrossFit offers so much more than that – strength, cardio, mobility.

I’d add that working out in a group environment is HUGE. I’m an extremely competitive person, so I always find myself in a friendly competition with other members, at least in my own head. I always want to finish more rounds, lift more weight, or finish faster than the next person. This is hands down the biggest thing that pushes me and makes the workouts way better than anything I could do on my own. 
3. How has doing CrossFit affected your health and/or life?
The biggest thing CrossFit has helped with is consistency. Having a coach and friends in class keeps me coming back. I still lift outside of CrossFit, and I’ve found the variety of doing both has kept me from getting bored. To me, this consistency equals success. And that consistency has resulted in big strength and conditioning gains, and the confidence that comes along with that. I feel stronger and in better shape than ever. Feels great!
4. What is your favorite CrossFit movement?
Hands down my favorite part of CrossFit is watching sweat drip from my face during workouts. There’s no better feeling.
5. What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying CrossFit?
I think most people get hung up on the price. But if you think about it, you’re paying for the coaching, group setting, accountability, facility, equipment. You’re getting a lot for your money. If you take full advantage of your membership and come to class consistently you’ll get results. You’ll get stronger, faster, and overall healthier. You can’t put a price on that.

Why Us?  Part 2

Injured again?  It happens all too often to endurance athletes.  All that repetitive motion means that if anything is even a little bit off – stride too long, hips a little twisted, hand entering the water a little too close to midline – it adds up and eventually something starts hurting.  Coming back from injury is maddening, boring, aggravating, and an opportunity, all at the same time.  The key to turning that frown upside down is to take the opportunity it presents to (1) understand why the injury happened, address that issue to prevent its recurrence, and (2) learn new skills, take on new challenges to help you stay active and recover faster, so you can get back to what you love sooner.

Related: Why Personal Training?

Injuries have two basic causes: trauma and overuse.  Traumatic injuries, such as getting hit by a car, are out of our control.  We just deal with the consequences afterwards.  Adapt the best you can, keep chipping away at the issues, and have patience.  Overuse, however, is much more within our control.

While you are recovering from injury, we can help you address your mobility issues, learn new skills like resistance training, get you moving better overall and make you a more anti-fragile athlete. 

The solution to overuse injuries is Technique, Technique, and more Technique.  And variety.  Running technique is usually ignored except at the end of a race (“keep your form together!”), as if it had no impact on your injury risk.  Often the cause is simply not believing that form can be better or worse – the belief that you should just run the way your body wants to run.  But the way your body “wants” to run is shaped by your life to that point.  In our culture, that almost certainly means a lifetime in bad footwear and an otherwise sedentary lifestyle, with the mobility restrictions those cause.  Your body obeys the command to “run!” by finding a way that works given those restrictions.  It compensates.  But those compensations are compromises, and if left unaddressed, they will eventually flower into injuries.  Restoring the strength and alignment of your feet, loosening your hip flexors and other immobile spots, and learning proper technique will remove those restrictions, allowing your body to function optimally.  The same goes for swimming, bicycling, and everything else.

While you are recovering from injury, we can help you address those mobility issues, learn new skills like resistance training, get you moving better overall and make you a more anti-fragile athlete.  (The trend is to call it “resilience” but that’s the ability to absorb punishment without breaking.  The whole point of athletic training is to use the adaptive properties of our physical selves to improve, which is anti-fragility.)

Related: Strength Training for Endurance Athletes – Videos and Guide

Our mobility class attacks movement restrictions directly, in ways that produce maximum results in minimum time.  Our on-ramp and the instruction given in all of our classes teach and refine skills in a wide variety of movements across a wide variety of implements.  And for focused attention to your needs and maximum speed of improvement, nothing beats personal training.  Contact me at john@crossfitslipstream.com for a FREE, No-Sweat Introduction to get answers to all your questions on how we can best help you get back to the sport you love!

-John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

Why Us?  Part 1

You run (or bike or swim or all three or paddle or whatever) anything from three times a week to every day.  You eat the diet the magazines tell you to – lots of vegetables, fruits, pasta, whole wheat.  You even go hard 20% of the time, like they tell you to.  So why is your waistline not shrinking?  And while your times may be improving, you feel like you’re not getting the results your efforts deserve.  You know you’re supposed to do resistance training, and you’ve even done the routines in the magazines a few times…but it’s so silly, you don’t know what you’re doing, and you don’t belong in that part of the gym.  Not to mention how embarrassingly tiny the weights you had to use are.

We excel at teaching endurance athletes and others with little or no experience with resistance training. 

What to do?

Let us help!

We excel at teaching endurance athletes and others with little or no resistance training experience to move well, recover lost ranges of motion, learn resistance training movements, and integrate resistance training into their training plans.  The most direct introduction to this is our “Endurance” class, which is a resistance training class, not a track workout.  We will use movements you can perform well to get your heart rate up like a recovery workout (~60-70% of maximum), and keep you there.  All the benefits of resistance training, plus a recovery workout in one.

Related: Why Personal Training?

Give it a try, and see if you like the results.  Then, if you would like more, personal training offers total flexibility and focus on your needs, or our CrossFit® and CrossFit® Lite classes offer instruction and practice in a wide variety of exercise modalities – barbell, kettlebell, bodyweight, running, rowing, and more – to help you become and remain strong, mobile, and ready to tackle your next event.

Come see what a difference professional instruction and guidance can make!  And the best part – once you’ve recovered your mobility and learned the movements – you’re free to take that knowledge with you!  We help you be independent and confident in your abilities, so you can take your newfound skills wherever life takes you!

Send us your questions, or to find out how we can help you reach your goals, contact me at john@crossfitslipstream.com.

-John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

What’s this New Endurance Class?

We are really excited for our new Endurance Class to start up on Monday, June 24th at 6:30PM!  So…what’s that and why is it exciting?

Related: Stop Stretching, Do Mobility Work Instead

Built for both Endurance Athletes but also great for our regular members, our Endurance Class will help you recover from your regular workouts, improve your  strength, stability, balance, and coordination, and build your aerobic base while burning fat during the workout.  These are things you can do best – or only, in the case of fat-burning – at low cardiovascular intensity.  In short, our Endurance Class will give you the benefits of both a strength session and a recovery workout in an efficient one hour package.

In short, our Endurance Class will give you the benefits of both a strength session and a recovery workout in an efficient one hour package.

To achieve all of this in only an hour, our Endurance Class happens at the same conversational pace you want during a recovery workout, but it uses strength movements to get you there.  The strength movements will develop your core stability, balance, and ability to recruit more of your muscle fibers.  These improvements allow you to move more efficiently, and more efficiency = more endurance.

Hint: You’ll Become Familiar with These

We accomplish this with relatively simple movements and implements – your bodyweight, kettlebells, dumbbells, and sandbags.  Simple does not mean easy, of course, but the challenge will be more neurological than cardiovascular, improving your mind-body connection and opening new performance possibilities.

Related: CrossFit? But I’m an Endurance Athlete!

Send us your questions, or to find out how we can help you reach your goals, contact me at john@crossfitslipstream.com.

John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

Member Highlight – Meet Kellie

1. Why did you decide to try CrossFit?  
I decided to try Crossfit for 2 main reasons.  I was bored with my workouts and wanted to try something new. I also really wanted to learn how to do barbell lifts safely.
2. How is having a CrossFit coach changed your workout or fitness results? 
Having a coach has really helped me push myself to do much more than I ever thought was possible.  I have had great coaches that have helped teach me how to do the movements correctly and safely and I know I would have injured myself a lot if I had tried to do it on my own.  It’s nice to have someone that is always helping you to do your best and really wants you to achieve it.  It’s also really helpful to have a coach to program the workouts, it helps push you to do the things you don’t necessarily want to do but are actually good for you (I’m talking about you burpees). 
3. How has doing CrossFit affected your health and/or life?   
I have a daughter and it’s always been important for me to be able to keep up with her and be a role model for her.  I want to her understand health and strength are important and it’s not just about appearances as she moves into being teen and deals with more pressure.  The workouts also help me deal with the stress of a demanding job.   I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times I have walked into the gym really stressed or tired and walked out feeling 100% better.  I also love being able to help haul heavy things at home and know that I’m not always dependent others to do it for me! 
4. What is your favorite CrossFit movement?  
I think the running joke is that if there are Kettlebell movements programmed for a workout, I will probably be there-I love Kettlebells!  Deadlifts and the Bear Complex are pretty awesome too. 
5. What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying CrossFit?  
Try it! The hardest part is walking in the door.  There is a modification for everything to meet you where you are at and we all modify in some way, you won’t be the only one!  Crossfit is also so much about community, it’s fun to battle through a hard workout with others and know that everyone is there to help you and cheer you on.   

Pacing, Mental Fitness & the Tie That Binds

Our last two blog posts have discussed Pacing and Mental Fitness, respectively.  Pacing is the art of calibrating your effort for maximum average power output, resulting in maximum performance.  “Mental fitness” is a catch-all term we use to describe the mental aspect of athletic performance – how well you are able to steer your mental chatter towards optimum performance.  We could say how ‘fit’  you are mentally.   The two are closely intertwined, of course, and the tie that binds them together is breathing.

…to really use our breath to our athletic advantage, we have to first notice the fact of breathing and then begin taking a degree of control over it.

Very few of us know how to breathe.  Oh, we all breathe, all day long, and do a perfectly workable job of not dying.  That’s a start.  But to really use our breath to our athletic advantage, we have to first notice the fact of breathing and then begin taking a degree of control over it.

Related: Aerobic Capacity – What Is It & Why Is It Important?

This process begins with becoming consciously aware of your breathing.  We have begun this process at CrossFit Slipstream, primarily during weightlifting efforts, focusing on exhaling when working against gravity, and inhaling while working with gravity.  That is, exhale while lifting, inhale while lowering.  Sometimes we hold while lowering, especially on our heaviest efforts to help brace our core.  These are three of the four basic things to do with your breath: in, out, hold full, and hold empty.  A great way to build awareness is to “box breathe” – breathe in, hold, breathe out, and hold empty for the same time each.  Try a 4-count, and shorten if you need to:

The next step is to evaluate the effect these breathing patterns have on our efforts: do you feel stronger? Weaker? No change?  Do you feel less winded after a lifting set?  More?  Paying attention to the effect of different breathing techniques allows us to be as scientific (or at least systematic) as possible in working with our breath.  It’s not enough just to exhale now and inhale then because your coach told you to – you have to take responsibility for paying attention, identifying the effect of the breath, and provide feedback to yourself and your coach on what you experience as a result of breath work.

From weightlifting, in which it is relatively easy to manipulate and evaluate our breathing patterns, we increase the difficulty and begin applying it to our met-cons, runs, and other endurance activities.  In these situations, breathing with the diaphragm, as deeply as possible, and as slowly as possible, becomes our goal.  Keeping your effort aligned with your breath is the best, surest, way to keep your effort from crossing into oxygen debt, which will force you to slow down.

 Related: Intensity: The Key to Improving Your Physical Fitness

Being aligned with your breath means that your movements are timed with your breathing – not the other way around.  For maximum average power output your breathing should be deep, rapid, and just able to keep you out of oxygen debt.  That means that you can continue your effort without needing to stop and rest or slow down significantly.  The exhale is forceful and occurs when you need to move against gravity when lifting or doing bodyweight movements.  The inhale is deep, driven by the diaphragm, and timed to correspond to your movement with gravity.  For running, cycling, and similar activities, breathing is deep, regular, and aligned with your movement cadence.

Begin with this basic discovery of your breath and its abilities to calm your mind, power your movements, and regulate your effort.  More advanced performance measures begin regulating the pace of the breath, affecting your CO2 levels and other variables that affect performance.

-John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer


Aerobic Capacity Training, Part 2: Pacing

There are many additional benefits of aerobic capacity training to those discussed in Part 1, but they can be summarized in one word: pacing.  Pacing sometimes has a negative connotation to the arrogant, who might stereotype it as what wimps or losers do.  Winners charge out of the gate and don’t slow down!  Except that if you charge all out you will slow down when your glycolytic energy system is out of fuel, your muscles are chock full of lactate, and your heart rate is pegged at its maximum.  If you’re fit, that won’t happen for events less than 2:00, so if that’s the time domain the workout or event demands, by all means, slam the throttle and Go!  But for anything beyond 2:00, finding your maximum sustainable pace for the time you expect it to take is the highest intensity – and wisest – choice you can make.

…for anything beyond 2:00, finding your maximum sustainable pace for the time you expect it to take is the highest intensity – and wisest – choice you can make.

Simple test: run for 100m as fast as you possibly can.  How fast will you choose to run?  Pretty darn fast (relative to your body’s top speed), since 100m won’t take a very long time, and your phosphate & glycolytic energy systems can provide plenty of energy for that period of time.  Rest a bit, then run 1 mile as fast as you possibly can.  You could start out at your 100m pace, but you’ll exhaust those two energy systems and still have 1,500m left to go.

Obviously, the sensible thing to do is to run as fast as you think you can possibly hold for the full mile from the start.  This will feel relatively easy at the beginning, since you are full of oxygen and not using your glycolytic energy system at its maximum rate.  Your pace will not be near your body’s top speed, and your heart rate will not be at maximum.  To start.

Related: Why 50-60% of 1 Rep Max Makes You Fitter

As you continue to run, the byproducts of glycolytic metabolism will build up, signs of stress will multiply, and your mind will start talking to you, trying to get you to slow down.  If you have chosen your pace wisely, and are applying strong “mental fitness” – positive self talk and other techniques that help you resist the mind’s calls to slow down – you will run out of gas and be forced to stop just as you cross the finish line.  That is how you run the fastest mile you are capable of running.

CrossFit is a Constantly Varied selection of Functional Movements performed at High Intensity.  Your highest average intensity for a workout is achieved with proper pacing, rather than going out too fast, crashing, recovering mid-workout, and then resuming a high pace.  This fast start —> slow middle—> fast finish can create the false impression of high intensity.  It happens all the time.

Our famous 21-15-9 rep scheme gives us an easy example: You blow the doors off the round of 21, but were completely anaerobic, and collapse (at least metaphorically – you may still be on your feet, but probably with your hands on your knees) as you struggle through a 4 or 5-set version of your 15 reps of each exercise, gasping after not even a handful of reps.  This does allow you to recover, and, hey, it’s just 9 reps, so you blow through the round of 9, collapse on the ground, make your sweat demon, and pat yourself on the back for your “high intensity” workout.  But what you really did was turn a single high intensity workout – go hard, finish with everything you have – into an interval workout – sprint, rest, sprint.

The latter will not give you the benefits you would have received from a more evenly paced workout.  On top of that, you would’ve finished the whole thing faster had you found a pace you could hold throughout the workout rather than sprinting, resting, and sprinting (see, for example, the tale of the Tortoise and the Hare).

I once had a swim coach advise me to sprint everything in the 200 yard Individual Medley because you’re switching strokes every 50 yards, so you’re switching muscle groups, so it’s just 50 yards of a stroke, which is a sprint.  But those different muscle groups are all running off the same three energy systems!  The change does mean that you can go a little harder than you would for 200 of one thing, but you still cannot treat it as an all-out sprint and expect to finish with the fastest time you are capable of.  The truth is, even for CrossFit events with lots of different elements, such as the Filthy 50’s 10 different movements, pacing is a critical skill.

The more aware we are of our heart rate, breathing, the way the working and non-working muscles feel, the more we get to know what a given effort feels like, the better we can adjust our pace. 

Aerobic Capacity workouts give us the opportunity to focus on our pacing and get to know the physiological signs of our effort.  The more aware we are of our heart rate, breathing, the way the working and non-working muscles feel, the more we get to know what a given effort feels like, the better we can adjust our pace.  This allows us to check in during a met-con and determine how we are doing relative to our desired effort.  We can then adjust our pace and/or apply mental fitness as needed to finish in our best possible time.

Related: Training for Obstacle Course Racing

Pacing training also expands the range of time domains we can prepare for in the gym, despite our one hour class times.  You don’t need a 90-minute workout to practice your 90 minute pace.  Let’s say you’re preparing for a half-marathon, and want to train your body to finish in about 90 minutes.  That’s right under 7:00 per mile, so you can start by running a mile in as close to 7:00 as possible.

But you can also break that down further – it’s 3:30 for 800m, 1:45 per 400m, and 0:55 per 200m.  So you can run repeats of any of those distances for the goal time, and the process will teach your body and mind what a 7:00 pace feels like.  This will allow you to settle into your pace more quickly, and hold it more accurately over the course of the race, without ever having to do a full race-effort half marathon in training (which would be rather silly, wouldn’t it?).

By learning to pace properly, you can achieve and maintain the highest intensity you are capable of for a given time domain.  By practicing the required intensity for a longer event for shorter periods of time, you prepare your body and mind to understand – to “feel” – what it’s like to hold that pace, dramatically increasing your ability to actually hold your desired pace and thus achieve your goal for that event.  This makes us more capable, happier, and more confident athletes, capable of tackling whatever we set our minds to.

—John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

CrossFit Slipstream


Member Highlight – Meet John

1. Why did you decide to try CrossFit?    
I noticed that I was struggling with my energy level.   My job consists of mainly sitting on my rear until lunch, eating lunch, going back to sitting on my rear.    As a man who is approaching 50, this is a recipe for disaster.   I have children and would really like to live long enough to bounce grandbabies on my knee someday.
2. How is having a CrossFit coach changed your workout or fitness results?     
As a younger man, I always perceived workouts as a means to ‘get big’ and stay slim.   I find that Crossfit delivers on much more.  Flexibility, cardiovascular health, strength and most importantly, an increase in energy level have resulted from my work at Slipstream.
3. How has doing CrossFit affected your health and/or life?   
CrossFit has positively affected all other areas of my life.  I find myself doing a better job as a husband, employer, daddy.    I have the energy to finish each day strong.
4. What is your favorite CrossFit movement?     
Turning on the shower after a workout.
5. What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying CrossFit?     
 Don’t feel like you have to be at a certain fitness level before coming in.  I find that when I encourage friends to try CrossFit, they feel like it is only for advanced athletes.   The conversation usually goes like this:
Me:  Hey, you should try CrossFit!
Them:   No way, that’s for advanced athletes.
Me:  That’s really not true, CrossFit can be modified to accommodate any fitness level.
Them:  Really?  Why, have you tried it?
Me: Yep, been doing it for almost two years now.
Them:  **Looking down at my gut**  I guess you’re right, maybe I will try it.
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